February 24, 2020


California bound! We left on a Saturday morning (pic most likely taken while Devin was in the gas station). We stopped in Lehi, UT to let the kids play at Thanksgiving Point Natural Curiosity Museum for an hour and get lunch before making the trek to St George to stay the weekend with our friends, Mitchell and Farrah Stoker.

We got to St George around 4:30pm with enough time to get situated and let the kids enjoy some SUN before we left them to go out to dinner. It was SO nice of Jaida (their oldest) to watch all the kids! We feel so lucky to have had a place to break up the drive and spend quality, uninterrupted time with our friends...we always laugh so much when we're together - Mitchell is Devin's best friend from high school. 

After church on Sunday they took us to the glitter mountain, which is a pit of shiny, translucent crystal in the mountain side. The wind almost blew us over while we were there! My kids were being daredevils climbing on all the rocks - Ava jumped from a ledge and slid on loose dirt when she landed and scraped her knee so she wasn't very happy for picture taking :(

Next, they took us to Pioneer Park which has red rock hiking/climbing. This narrow passageway called Slot Canyon got so thin at one point I felt like I only had an inch in front of my nose while hiking sideways! The views at the top were incredible though, St George is a beautiful place!

Owen was a trooper being the only boy with everyone, except Mason who is 1.5 haha, but Ava and their girls were almost always off together somewhere scootering or dancing to music in the garage or facetiming each other on their ipads that I don't even have a picture of them! Mitchell was nice to give Owen attention and show him his magic tricks and do "challenges" with him :)
One morning Mitchell was talking to Owen about St George and asking if he liked being at their house and Owen said yeah, and Mitchell told Owen he thinks there will be lots of people at Disneyland and Owen said yeah, because Disneyland is more fun than your house! Oh geez,  haha.

We left St George Monday morning and drove all the way to Baker, California to stop and get lunch at Del Taco. The plan was also to run around outside a bit but the wind there was INSANE! Our kids honestly did so well in the car. I got the idea from Homegrown Traditions to pack a "book bag", that had a bunch of books from either the library or our bookshelves that they haven't seen recently so they felt new. I also had an art bag with coloring books and stickers and new markers and the magic markers that only color on special paper. I also had a game bag with dry erase doodle/mazes/dot to dot and brain quest games and word puzzles and stuff. Between movies in the car, rotating through these bags for an hour at a time, and listening to music/audiobooks they did great!

Nothing hit us more than the lovely, fragrance of Southern California as we got out of the car at our hotel that afternoon. Next, the warmth of a perfect 70 degrees. Turns out, the hotel pool was outside and not heated, haha, but that didn't stop our kids. They hopped from the hot tub to the pool a million times. Once they got their fill of swimming we got dressed and headed to the pier at Huntington Beach.

So Cal happened to be experiencing the Santa Ana winds when we got there so we're glad we brought jackets/coats! We walked all the way to the end of the pier and got to see the sun set but then we quickly turned around to walk back and Ava couldn't believe we walked all the way to the end in the wind "for nothing" haha.

It was so hard to see the sand and the beach and not play in it so I took Owen and Lucy down to play in the sand for a bit while Devin took Ava to some stores up above since she didn't have a coat. Owen was in heaven and we were so excited to come back the next day. We had talked about doing Disneyland on Tuesday and Wednesday but after getting there on Monday and being near the beach we knew we needed a day to relax and enjoy the beach first. I'll post about the beach days after my Disney posts :)

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Disneyland Feb 12th

We woke these cutie patooties up bright and early for DISNEYLAND!! They were so excited. The picture on the right was the "now do a nice picture"....Owen haha!

I had an unexpected, bizarre emotional moment entering the park in front of the big castle with Ava by my side that almost brought me to tears. It was such a beautiful morning and the joy she had when she found out that we had WON the tickets from HER school to a place she's always heard friends and cousins talking about was the cutest. The "almost tears" were probably from pure exhaustion and nervous jitters for the two days ahead :)


Well, I tried out the RideMax "app"/program recommended by several sources and I had several different itineraries created, all of which said to get to the park EARLY and hit up the Peter Pan ride first/asap/RUN. Well, we got there early but there was still a crazy line when we got there so we ditched it and went to Dumbo, and Autopia first.

Owen was DYING to go on the astro orbiter ride (above, right) and we tried to talk him out of it. It ended up being one of our longest lines of the day (20 min or so) and it was SO anticlimatic (look at our faces haha!). The things the kids were saying getting off that ride made them sound like total brats (that was dumb! I hated that ride!...) but we asked Owen if he would believe us next time we tried to tell him if a ride was going to be good or not and he said yes :) 

Splash Mountain, however, was the biggest hit of the day!! NO LINE. Devin took the kids first and then I took them and we did that multiple times, never using a fastpass and never had to wait. It was incredible. The next day at CA I was looking at the wait times for Splash and they were about 45 min all day so I'm glad we went the day we did!

We honestly did quite a bit of splitting up throughout the day since Lucy couldn't go on a lot of rides. She went on Winnie the Pooh a couple times while the big kids did Splash Mountain...but we finally got to all go on It's A Small World together. It was funny to see who loved it (me, Lucy, Owen) and who thought it was creepy (Devin, Ava). Owen spent most of the ride pretending to hunt all the animals.

Favorite rides of the day were: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain (Devin's favorite -they got to go twice that day with no wait), and the kids loved Space Mountain also. They were daredevils and loved all the crazy, scary rides!

Other rides they liked: Pirates of the Caribbean, Matterhorn Bobsled (Owen couldn't stop talking about the Yeti), Ava loved Indiana Jones even though the ride broke down while she and Devin were in line for it, making it a little long. The Gadget Coaster in Toon Town was super short but SO fun :)

Lucy and I rode the gadget coaster at night when I took her back to Toon Town and I couldn't tell if she enjoyed it or not because it was so fast and kinda loud so I said "Was that fun??" and she said "yeah" unenthusiastically and then I asked "Do you want to ride it again?" and she quickly said "no". haha!

But Devin, Ava, and Owen's favorite was the new Star Wars Rise of the Resistance ride, which they thankfully got to go on. Their boarding group got called around 6 while we were eating dinner so they hurried and finished, said goodbye to me and Lucy and hurried over there. They were gone for about an hour and a half - almost an hour waiting in line and then the "ride/experience" itself which is 17 min long.

I don't know anything about Star Wars but Devin said it was incredible - taking you through different scenes that made you feel like you were on the set of the movie. There were also points where you were in battle (i think?) - Owen loved the storm troopers. They liked being on it at night because Devin said it made it feel like you didn't know if you were in or out of the ride and that when they came out the kids asked "were we really in space?". :)


Lucy showed a LOT of interest in meeting the Winnie the Pooh characters after going on the ride several times but I should have known better. Wasted 30 min standing in line with her, only to have her freak out when it was actually her turn, haha. At least she let me hold her for some pics. 

The kids had the most magical little moment being in the right place at the right time! Merida from Brave, Peter Pan, and Captain Hook just happened to be in a semi-secluded spot that we were passing through and they started playing games with the kids. They played Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says and the characters were just doing fun interactions with the kids that totally made their day. 

Lucy and I wandered around a little while the others were at Star Wars, and she had THE MOST FUN chasing ducks :) We also got to catch Belle after one of her Royal Theatre shows.

Ava was asking all day when we would see the princesses and we were lucky enough to find a wait time of only about 15 min while the Royal Theatre show was going on. Lucy wouldn't go near them but Ava was loving it.

Lucy was napping in the stroller when we were at Toon Town earlier in the day so I took her while everyone was at Star Wars. She had been talking about Mickey Mouse all day so I was reallllly hoping she'd take a liking to him when there was only a 10min wait to see him. Well, they did this nice thing where they have you stand in the picture spot and then he comes into the room (instead of trying to drag a screaming toddler to him, which I wouldn't do anyway). She was pretty nervous and frightened when he came in but she immediately warmed up when he started playing peek a boo with her and she even game him a high five :)


Per Marissa's request we got the Raspberry Mickey Macaroon that was so big and delicious. It was pricey but the giant raspberries in the center were worth it and we were able to split it between the 5 of us. Then for dinner we got the famous from-scratch, hand-battered corn dogs that were THE best corn dogs we've ever had, also huge - they were from the Stage Door Cafe.

I was honestly expecting the food to be way more in our face - like the churros. I don't know if it was because we were just so go, go, go all day but I don't remember actually SEEING anywhere that a churro was sold so it was kind of out of sight, out of mind. I felt like if we wanted something we had to seek it out and we just cared too much about other things that day.

I first saw these silhouettes at my friend Corina's house and I knew I had to get them of my kids while we were here - they are just the perfect ages that I want to remember and it's not a very expensive souvenir. We ran out of time on Wednesday so we came back the next night after California Adventure and got them done just in time to go enjoy the Mickey's Mix Magic - giant dance party on main street with lights and projection on the castle - SO fun, even though our kids were WIPED. haha

Devin was pretty much a Disneyland/California hater before we came. He had been once as a kid but had no desire to go so it felt meant-to-be that we won the tickets from Ava's school or we probably wouldn't have made this trip a priority. Sure enough, Devin was converted to the magic and thrill of Disneyland and our kids had a blast. Everything from the amount of trash cans (we never saw a piece of trash on the ground all day!) to the efficient parking system and the music playing all through the park - Disney has things down to a T. The only problem we had was connecting our free tickets to our app, which I explain below but we ended up having a fantastic day otherwise, which is pretty incredible.

Long story short: our free tickets wouldn't scan to the app before we went to Disneyland (which I e-mailed about and they said they would scan once we got into the park) and even after scanning into the park they still wouldn't scan onto our app. This means we couldn't upgrade to get MaxPasses and Devin couldn't join a boarding group for the Star Wars ride, which people suggest doing MINUTES within getting to the park if you want a chance of getting on. So that was a stressful start and something we weren't able to get resolved for about the first hour of being there and found out we had to go all the way back to the front of the park and get our tickets reprinted. They gave us an extra fast pass for the trouble. Since we had the extra fast pass and we had already been there for a good amount of time we decided to pass on paying the extra $ for max pass.  For not having max pass and having that almost wasted 45 min-hour of our day, I am SO impressed with how many rides we did with little wait time and how many characters we saw. It was such a fun day and we got so much more out of it than I was expecting. The only thing we could have done more of was food ;)  Pin It